Kerala has built a robust public health system. Through aggressive testing, intense contact tracing, and more, they've beaten the pandemic.
As the capitalist world struggles to beat the deadly Coronavirus, it is our communist neighbors like Cuba and South Korea that have led the way forward. Cuba, for instance, sent 30,000 medical professionals abroad to tackle the global public health crisis. Meanwhile, South Korea plans to ship 600,000 Coronavirus testing kits to the United States. Now, there's a new hero for the rest of the world to look up to: Kerala, a small communist state in the populous country of India. While the other 28 states in the South Asian nation hang on by the very thin and fraying string of philanthropy, Kerala has shown its neighbors - domestic and international - how to effectively tackle a worldwide pandemic through a communist approach, The Washington Post reports.
The state, run by the Communist Party of India (Marxist)'s Chief Minister Shri. Pinarayi Vijayan, opted for a holistic solution to the public health crisis. Not only did Kerala implement a strict lockdown weeks before the rest of the country did, but the local government also ensured aggressive testing, intense contact tracing, makeshift shelters for migrant workers who found themselves stranded after India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a sudden nationwide shutdown, and the distribution of millions of cooked meals to those in need. These measures are, without a doubt, finally paying off.
#Kerala | Walk in Sample Kiosks for mass collection of samples for #COVID__19 testing in Ernakulam. The swab can be collected without direct exposure & contact through this Kiosk.#Coronavirus #COVID19 #CoronavirusUpdate pic.twitter.com/YXbNbmQ9EE— First India (@thefirstindia) April 12, 2020
Kerala was the first state to report a positive case of COVID-19 in late January. Positive cases trickled in across India in the coming weeks. Nonetheless, because of the stringent precautions the state implemented, they have successfully seen a dip in new cases. In the first week of April, the number of new positive cases dropped by 30 percent in comparison to the previous week. The state has also seen only two deaths as a result of the novel Coronavirus. In addition to this, 34 percent of all patients who tested positive for the virus has since recovered - a statistic that is higher than anywhere else in the country. Kerala has, against all odds, flattened the Coronavirus curve.
"We hoped for the best but planned for the worst," stated Kerala's Health Minister K.K. Shailaja. "Now, the curve has flattened, but we cannot predict what will happen next week." While the state has flattened the curve, Shailaja warned that the pandemic was far from over. She also shared that several other states had reached out to Kerala for advice on how to handle the public health crisis. Though the rest of the country can definitely take a leaf or two from the southern state's book, Kerala's lessons may be hard to implement, especially in the face of one of the worst medical crises the world has seen in the recent past.
Kerala's public health system was built and fortified over numerous decades of Communist rule. For the past thirty years, the state has invested heavily in universal healthcare and public education. They now boast the highest literacy rate in the country and the state "tops India’s rankings on neonatal mortality, birth immunizations, and the availability of specialists at primary care facilities." Their robust public systems uniquely equipped Kerala to handle one of the most disastrous pandemics in history. Even as central agencies argued that mass testing was unviable in a country like India and others like it, Kerala rose to the occasion and followed the World Health Organization’s recommendation on aggressive testing to a T. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said about the rest of the country - or the rest of the world, even the so-called "developed" world.
The learning here, perhaps, is that the world can no longer rely on irresponsible governments and free markets. Our governments need to invest in our people and their well-being. The world after Coronavirus simply cannot look the same. If Kerala can teach us anything, it is that that our world must look vastly different; it must look like the communist utopia that this unassuming state in one of the world's most populated countries was able to create. Humanity cannot sustain itself on anything short of that.